International Women’s Day: Commemoration not Celebration

· May 25, 2017
March 8th is International Women's Day. We commemorate women who have made history fighting for equality, justice, peace, and development.

International Women’s Day isn’t a celebration.

The purpose of International Women’s Day is to raise awareness and to seek a public stage for reflection. It also aims to remind us that we still have a lot to fight for and that we have to work, raise our voice and get more allies.

Gender equality is a steady path that progresses day by day. However, there are still potholes on the path when we look at situations in various parts of the world, where many legislative foundations continue to cut the rights and opportunities of women

While some may say International Women’s Day is no longer necessary, this simply isn’t true because there is still a long way to go for gender inequality. In addition, International Women’s Day is also about honoring women who have got us to where we are now.

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All of this undoubtedly leads us to see March 8 from various perspectives. This goes beyond the celebration or the bouquet of roses that we give our mothers, sisters or partners.

Now’s an ideal time to look up and ask what we can do to create more than just an egalitarian society today.

We must set our sights on tomorrow in order to ask what kind of society we want to give to the women of the future.

Furthermore, it’s time to create a respectful environment that favors equality and offers wonderful opportunities where all men and women can fight for their dreams.

We have many steps forwards to go and large gaps to overcome.

International women's day flowers woman

International Women’s Day: Feminism for All

Many things have happened since Simone de Beauvoir wrote her celebrated essay The Second Sex in 1949.

To begin with, Helen Fisher, the well-known American anthropologist, published The First Sex fifty years later in 1999 to highlight relevant points:

  • The innate capabilities of women are changing the world.
  • Women’s skills and approaches in addressing and solving problems are gradually improving our society in an unstoppable way.
  • Women aren’t superior or inferior to men. The international women’s movement advocates this principle of equality. This is where the distribution of roles, responsibilities, and positions in society are similar and established.
  • Another aspect that Helen Fisher points out is that the biggest challenge that women face today is juggling family life with work life.
  • Women, in turn, are disproportionately represented in certain work areas because of gender stereotypes.

At present, one of this movement’s major goals is to dismantle the classic patriarchal view that women should take responsibility for the household.

According to this, a woman should never be forced to postpone her career if she’s a mother.

Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your rules, build a life you’re proud to live.

-Anne Sweeney-

The Need to Promote the Empowerment of Women

International women's day seed of equality

Eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were outlined at the United Nations’ (UN) 58th session of the Commision on the Status of Women in 2014.

Among them was the importance of providing resources to promote the empowerment of women.

Now, it’s quite possible that the term “empowerment” causes some confusion, so it needs to be defined. Empowering women doesn’t mean giving them resources to make them more powerful than men.

It means making women visible, giving a voice to women who have been silenced and offering them opportunities when they lack them.

To better understand this concept, there’s nothing better than looking at the very text drafted by the UN. In this text, the UN outlined the steps to achieve empowerment as follows:

  1. Promote gender equality from all institutions.
  2. Treat all men and women fairly at work – respect and defend human rights and non-discrimination.
  3. Ensure the health, safety, and welfare of all workers.
  4. Promote the education, training, and professional development of women.
  5. Carry out business development, supply chain and marketing practices in favor of empowering women.
  6. Promote equality through community initiatives and lobbying.
  7. Evaluate and disseminate the progress made in favor of gender equality.

The best protection any woman can have is courage.

-Elizabeth Cady Stanton-

International Women’s Day is For the Girls of the Future

Girl holding flower international women's day girls of future

Our children are the future. It’s us, the adults of the present, who have the seed of an egalitarian tomorrow in our hands.

It’s time to fight for our dreams and goals with the same rights and opportunities. Every day, but especially on International Women’s Day:

  • Let’s teach girls to be brave, assertive and strong.
  • Let’s not fall into the error of assessing their physical appearance.
  • When we approach a girl, instead of telling her how beautiful she or the dress she’s wearing is, let’s ask her what book she’s reading, what she wants to be when she is older or what she likes.
  • We lead our daughters toward specific goals, which they choose. Let’s plant ideas of self-improvement and perseverance in their minds. Let’s allow them to be creative, bold and assertive.

To conclude, every March 8 (International Women’s Day) should allow us to reflect on what each of us is doing to promote gender equality. International Women’s Day sets the stage for parades, protests, and commemorations honoring women of the past.

In addition, these commemorations are for the people of the future because they teach us to keep fighting for equality.

We must create a world in which each person can freely and happily develop in the area they choose. This is a goal that we all have a voice in and in which we all must play our part.

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  • Kaplan, T. (1985). On the socialist origins of International Women’s Day. Feminist Studies11(1), 163-171.